Handicap-“Handicap Building”, “Sand-bagging”
Apparently, Thomas Talbot of Ireland understands the true depth of a cheating accusation. When he received his handicap of 13, a brief phrase accompanied it – “General Play.” I am not familiar with this phrase, but it seems as though it indicates that the player in question has falsified his handicap in some way through his play.
Such a thing is universal. People have matches and stroke tournaments coming up, and want to look as weak as possible in the pool of players. After receiving a high handicap, strokes that the better player must give his opponent, the cheater then goes out and plays much better than that number, and wins the…whatever is to be won that day.
I still don’t understand the term “General Play,” although “Handicap Building” makes a little more sense. In the states, we call it sand-bagging. For those who don’t play the handicap game before tournaments and matches, a great deal of pride is at stake. I would personally have died of embarrassment if my friends saw me lugging an enormous handicap number to the course. I’d rather lose every match for the rest of my life than to see such a number actually posted on some wall in or near the pro shop. So, one way or the other, the ego is going to try and get its way. Either win by faking lower quality, or lose looking good – aw, too bad, he must have had a bad day. His handicap is only 8!
Thomas Talbot is apparently in the second group, and the suggestion that he cheated to create an advantageous handicap number hurt him deeply. So, he did what any red-blooded Irishman would do…in an alternate reality…and took the golf club and the Irish Golfing Union to court in order to save his good name. He would sue the course for conspiring against him as well, which resulted in him being ejected from the club until further notice.
The case sat in judgment for over eighty days – talk about slow play on the part of the Irish justice system. However, there may have been method in the court’s madness, prolonging a case that should have been settled within five minutes of coming in the door. The way the judge described the great care taken, I get the impression that the court never, ever, wanted to see such a case again, and were making sure that they wouldn’t.
Talbot has lost his case, and his name-saving efforts are getting expensive. At 77 years of age, there are a lot of things men used to either do or own that they can no longer do or own – at least not as well as they once did. It’s perfectly understandable to me that the presence of an avid golfer’s handicap would loom larger and larger as the years go by. Plus, at such an age, one isn’t as willing to shrug the shoulders and move on to another club. He was not just a member. He was a senior member, a pillar of the place.
It is unclear what Talbot intends to do now. Two others have been thrown out of the club through the years, for property damage and inappropriate language. Talbot is the first to go for arguing with the club’s bigwig.
How I remember those handicap days. I didn’t give a hoot about tournaments. That number was a badge of either honor or incompetency, and at one point in my youth, I got it down to a fairly respectable number. Carrying around a bad handicap was worse than acne or being turned down for the harvest dance by four girls in the same day.
However, there is one way in which I must disagree with Mr. Talbot, although I sympathize with him heartily. Now, I’m sort of an old man, too, and I just don’t care about it anymore. None of it, the club, the match, the tournament, the four girls – and most definitely not…the handicap.